American Institute for Preventive Medicine

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Health Fair Information
The American Institute for Preventive Medicine has put together some important information on Health Fairs in Preventive Medicine.

Be smart about Health Fairs. Take a few moments and read this important information on Health Fairs.

The Role of Health Assessments, Health Risk Appraisals, and Health Fairs in Preventive Medicine

One of the first activities of many worksite wellness programs is to offer employees the opportunity to take a health assessment or Health Risk Appraisal.  It consists of a confidential questionnaire where employees answer questions about their health and lifestyle, including tobacco use, weight, physical activity, alcohol use, amount of stress, family history, etc.  The health assessment or Health Risk Appraisal enables an employee to quantify this rather abstract term called “lifestyle.”  The results printout informs an employee what their risks of developing heart disease, stroke, emphysema, and cancer by comparing them to other people of the same age, race, and sex.  Many health assessments or Health Risk Appraisals will also provide a wellness or health assessment score that lets the participant know how well they are doing from a health perspective.  Other health assessments or Health Risk Appraisals will provide a health age that can be compared to their actual age.  For instance, a person aged 53 who lives a very healthy lifestyle may be shown to have a health age of 42 while someone who is aged 42, but lives an unhealthy lifestyle may actually have a health age of that of a 53 year old.  This information can serve as a motivator for the employee to want to make changes in their health and participate in their company’s wellness program.

Many companies also offer a health fair to further educate their employees about wellness and preventive medicine.  At the health fair, a health screening may take place whereby tests are given to enable employees to find out their cholesterol, blood pressure, height/weight, blood sugar level, bone density, and a variety of other biometric measures.  This data can also be incorporated into the health assessment or Health Risk Appraisal as some of the questions on the questionnaire ask about these tests.  Having accurate information regarding the tests makes the health assessment or Health Risk Appraisal results more accurate.  If the employee does not know this information, the health assessment or Health Risk Appraisal uses normative values for a person of the same age, race, and sex.  This, however, decreases the assessment’s accuracy.

At the health fair, various booths are set up from local hospitals, universities, and wellness and preventive medicine vendors to educate employees about a variety of health issues.  These groups also encourage employees to sign up for their preventive medicine programs.  Preventive medicine is on the cutting edge of care management today.  The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been more important.  Unfortunately, we have a “sick care” system rather than a health care system that focuses on technology, medications, and surgery for treatment.  Preventive medicine is the cornerstone of a health care system that focuses on preventing an illness from occurring rather than treating it after the fact.  Hospitals, managed care organizations, corporations, government agencies, universities, and unions that focus on preventive medicine will succeed.  Those who fail to recognize the importance of preventive medicine will suffer as institutions.

The road to changing our health care system to one of preventive medicine is a long and arduous one, but it is the right road to take.  Ultimately, this journey may prove to be one of the greatest scientific adventures of all time that can lead to decreased morbidity and mortality for everyone.  We can all play a role in this move to preventive medicine.
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